Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


Hi, I am Tracey and here is a little bit about me….


I have always loved competing. Being the youngest of six kids, who all played sports, it was very natural for me to follow their path into sports. But more than that, we were always encouraged to go outside and play, riding bikes, making up games with a tennis ball or playing tag, or even just exploring the park. My competitiveness made for a good fit with sport. As a young kid, I loved swimming and thought I would be an Olympic swimmer and win a gold medal for Canada! After a paralysis happened when I was 9 1/2 years old, that dream seemed like an impossibility. My love of sports however, didn’t go away.


I was very fortunate to find out about Variety Village when I was 12 years old, where they offered sports for athletes with a disability. On my first visit to the gym, I tried everything, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball. I was hooked! I did all three sports at the beginning, but it was basketball that became my passion. It made almost no sense for me to pick basketball, I am short, I could not make a basketball at the beginning, I was the only girl at the training….but somehow, I knew I could get better. I loved the team aspect, playing with friends, challenging myself to be better in other ways because I was never going to be a giant, so I had to be smarter, faster, become a better shooter. With hours of work and lots of sweat, my dream of representing Canada became a reality! I competed in basketball from 1991 to 2017, competing in 7 Paralympics, 5 World Championships.


Later in my athletic career, I got back into wheelchair racing. People thought I was crazy to explore a new sport but it was the challenge I loved. It was totally different. An individual sport, where everything was on me. And again, I was not very good at the start, but I worked and worked and worked until I made the Canadian National Team in a second sport and competed in the 2008 Paralympics in Athletics.


I wrapped up my national team career in 2017 but found I was not done with sport. I took up handbiking and have done the Berlin and Heidelberg Marathons. I started thinking about competing in cycling but then it hit me, I liked cycling but I just wanted to enjoy the sport, not go out there to compete every day. So now, I am happily biking, for fun, like back when I was a kid! Now I go out for rides, sometimes on my own, sometimes with friends and sometimes with my husband.


Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.


I think having a disability as a young kid, there are clearly physical barriers (stairs, broken elevators etc) that are barriers but the ones that really bothered me were when people start to treat you differently. They lower expectations of you, they tell you that “you can’t do” things, or even that there is no place for you or you do not belong.

One of the things that surprised me (and still does) as it still happens to this day, is when people have a question they need to ask me, but instead of speaking to me, they direct their question to the able bodied person beside me, as if I am unable to speak for myself. A perfect example is going to a restaurant with friends or family, and the host/hostess will ask the person with me “does this table work for her?” Hello, I am right here, and I know what I need and can speak for myself.


I can’t even count the times this has happened.


So one of my pet peeves and barriers, is peoples attitude and ignorance about “ability” and they focus on the disability.


How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?


I am forever grateful, that my mom always told me to speak up for myself, to believe that I belong and to be creative in finding a solution that works for me.


Sport, built on that, showing me that I am capable of anything if I work for it. Accomplishments on the court, helped strengthen my confidence off the court. I knew I was strong, belonged and could take on any challenge.


So when confronted with peoples ignorance or condescending attitudes, I very quickly but politely, speak up. In the case of when people direct their question to my able bodied friend, I answer “I believe I can best answer your question and am capable of speaking for myself.” I then proceed to answer their question.


I have also had friends look at the person shocked and say “why ask me, when your question is for my friend?”


The people around me, are the best and always there to support and empower me. Surrounding yourself with positive supportive people is huge. That all started with the lesson of positivity and self determination that my mom taught me.


If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?




Life can be tough sometimes, it is not always fair but you cannot hang your head and feel sorry for yourself. You have to keep working, finding new and creative ways to solve problems but moving forward. Sometimes you get knocked down, the important thing is to get back up and keep moving towards your goal. Tomorrow is a new day, a new game and another chance to be better!


If you wanted to motivate a young female athlete to #BuildHerUp, what quote would you use? Why?


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou


Tomorrow is a new day, a new game and another chance to be better!


Sport is a great test, you start out knowing little, but over time, if you work, you get stronger, faster, better. You will win some, you will lose some, but so long as you know you gave your best, hold your head up high.


Twitter: @cdngirl12 | Instagram: @t_ferg12